Simple Causes, Complex Problems (A Guide for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Applicants)

March 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Disaster has struck at your workplace. You now need North Carolina Workman’s Compensation to pay staggeringly high medical bills, supplement your family’s income during your time off (and who knows how long that will last), and generally keep you moving (perhaps limping) towards your long-term financial goals.

How did you end up here?

Two classes of events can lead people to get hurt or sick at work: Acute and chronic.

Acute Workplace Injuries

These are the more “obvious” injuries. They include things like:

•    You fall off a loading dock and break your leg in three places;
•    You inhale aerosolized toxic chemicals while working in a chemical refinery and suffer immediate burning and lung damage;
•    You suffer a massive concussion and blood loss after a careless driver t-bones your delivery truck or rental car while you are en route to a conference;
•    You get into an altercation with a co-worker, and he beans you with a rock or a fist.

Acute accidents/illnesses are relatively easy to trace. In other words, you can identify the cause of the illness/injury pretty easily and with great certainty. The injury also happens across a very short span of time (seconds, minutes).

Chronic Workplace Injuries

Examples might include:

•    You develop carpal tunnel syndrome or another typing injury after working as a secretary for 13 years for a bank in the Research Triangle;
•    You develop fibromyalgia or type II diabetes or some other ailment which degrades your performance at work and, possibly, ultimately, prevents you from doing your job at all;
•    You suffer a lung ailment, skin problem, or some other medical concern after being exposed to environmentally dubious conditions at your workplace.

Chronic ailments are far difficult to “trace.” In other words, it’s harder to put together an argument or a story that connects workplace exposure or conditions with your illness/injury. Chronic problems by definition develop over long swaths of time. As a result, you cannot as easily connect the “causative event” with your injury, since so many different factors might have contributed to your problems.

That being said, many workplace injuries – even chronic, complicated ones – stem from simple causes done repeatedly over time. If someone hit you over the head with a hammer, you would develop a fractured skull, contusion, bleeding, swelling, etc. You could clearly say “the hammer blow caused all these problems.” But if someone taps your head with a hammer softly, repeatedly for a few weeks, and you suffer subtle, long term neuronal damage, now your case is harder. You can no longer say “the cause is still simple. All of my injuries and woe stem from the simple cause of the hammer blow.”

The moral here is: Your problems may seem complicated and not interrelated. But don’t be so sure. Even if you have a host of ailments right now, a single prominent chronic stressor in your life or at work might be responsible for a vast number of them.

A North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law firm can help you drill down to discover the root cause (or causes) of your problems and help you get compensated.

More Web Resources:

Example of a Simple Cause Leading to a Complex Problem.

Chronic Versus Acute Injuries